Officine Panerai is expanding its retail footprint.
This story first appeared in the December 11, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The luxury Italian watch brand, a division of Compagnie Financière Richemont, currently operates 10 stores in the U.S. and 64 around the world. Having recently opened stores in Paris, Hong Kong and Florence, the company is now readying a relocation of its New York City boutique, which is set to open early next year, followed by a Miami opening in February. Each of these stores sports its own unique concept, designed by Patricia Urquiola, a Spain-born designer who has worked with high-end hotels and brands around the world. Urquiola creates each design to reflect the city in which it is located.
The first of Urquiola’s designs made their debut in November in Panerai’s home city of Florence. The shop is located at Piazza San Giovanni, facing the Duomo. Restored to maintain the integrity of the historic building in which it is housed, the boutique was expanded to more than four times its original size, to about 3,000 square feet, and added a second floor; also, the boutique now has four windows, instead of one. It was Panerai’s second shop in Paris, on the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, opened in August. The most recent opening was in Hong Kong, Panerai’s largest store to date, a nearly 4,000-square-foot, four-level unit on Canton Road.
In January, the company will close its 680-square-foot store at 545 Madison Avenue at 55th Street, which it has operated since 2008, and move into a new space at 703 Madison, eight blocks north. The new store will measure around 800 square feet.
“It is very expensive to acquire space in New York,” said Panerai chief executive officer Angelo Bonati during a quick visit to the city last week. “You get offered 10,000 square feet or 800. We choose to stay small.”
Bonati said the new location is “more elegant” and is expected to attract more “local clients.” Since the company opened in the New York market six years ago, he said, it has developed a “strong residential clientele,” many of whom live on the Upper East Side.
After that, Panerai will open a 2,545-square-foot shop in the Miami Design District, at 9700 Collins Avenue, followed by a boutique in Milan. The company’s space in Milan will expand to 750 square feet on Via Montenapoleone. Bonati said the company is also looking for space on Bond Street in London and would like to add a store in San Francisco. Further, he is open to adding another unit in New York City, since the Madison Avenue boutique is so small. “We may need another one here,” he said.
“We’re working to grow the brand awareness through boutiques,” Bonati added. But the goal is to remain small. “We’re not huge like Rolex,” he said. “We’re a selective brand in a niche market, and we want to keep the exclusivity.”
The other stores in the States are in Aspen, Colo.; Bal Harbour, Boca Raton, Naples and Palm Beach, Fla.; Beverly Hills and La Jolla, Calif.; Dallas and Las Vegas.
The brand was founded in Florence in 1860 and was the official watch of the Italian Navy and its diving corp. It was acquired by Richemont in 1997.
In addition to its retail rollout, Panerai soon will unveil a new 32,808-square-foot manufacturing facility in Neuchâtel, Switzerland. The location will allow the brand to better control the quality of its collection. In the past, part of the production was farmed out to other facilities. The new plant will open at the end of this year or early next year.